Author Archives: fictorians

The Importance of Conventions by T. Allen Diaz

I’m preparing this week for my first, I hope of many, Labor Day journeys to Dragon Con in Atlanta. Dragon Con is a huge convention and the largest venue I’ve ever attended. I’m lucky, now. I’ve snagged my first writing contract and WordFire Press and Bard’s Tower do most of the heavy logistics for me, but it wasn’t always that way. Only a few short years ago I was scraping together the money I needed to pay for a booth and buying stock to put on the shelves in the hope to make enough to at least pay for my room and meals. So, it’s a pretty good time for someone to ask me about the con circuit, whether or not it’s worth all the sacrifice, and to weigh its pros and cons. The conventions are amazing experiences that have been indispensable to my career and are too important not to do. I’m not just talking about the big shows. To paraphrase a favorite movie character “Judge them not by their size”. The commercial success I’ve had to-date can be traced directly to the smallest con in sales and attendance at which I’ve ever appeared. 

The 2015 Necronomicon here in Tampa only expected a paltry twelve hundred or so, but I was already experienced enough to know that every opportunity to get out and mingle among potential fans and colleagues was one to be taken, especially if it was affordable and meant no traveling. Every time I go to these things, great or small, I take something away: a business tip or story idea or that ever-elusive serial reader. So, I went to Necro with the same excitement with which I go to every con. I didn’t make a ton that weekend, though I do recall a vendor next to me that still likes my Facebook page and follows my work, but I did make the acquaintance of a certain You Tuber/author interviewing artists and other folks at the con. My interview was a short affair, just ten minutes or so, but this You Tuber/author and I really hit it off and became friends and mutual business contacts.  

Two months later, Garrett Pomichicter gave me a guest spot on his on-line interview with Alan Dean Foster. A month after that, he introduced me to this fantastic publishing company out of Colorado called WordFire Press. I volunteered for them and met the great Kevin J. Anderson, Dave Butler, and Alexi Vandenburg. I did as many shows as I could with them. I learned the importance of being a good salesman and how to pitch a book. I was able to pick their brains about the business and made some friends along the way. I also put my books in people’s hands. 

Today, one of those books, Lunatic City, is a WordFire Press release that sold out at its debut at Tampa Bay Comicon 2017. I’m working diligently on edits and rewrites for its sequel in the hopes of a 2018 release. One of my WordFire colleagues and friends, Dave Butler, talked me up to another publisher, Chris Kennedy of Seventh Seal Press, looking for military sci-fi writers interested in contributing to one of his Four Horsemen Anthologies. My ten-thousand word short story, Hero of Styx is unofficially slated to be released in a book titled The Good, the Bad, and the Merc later this year. And, I’m about to go to Dragon Con, one of the largest, most prestigious conventions in the Southeast. Who knows who I may meet or what opportunities await there? 

So, when fledgling writers ask me: “Is it really worth it to go to all those cons?” I ask them, “Can you afford not to go?” Cons are tough, they’re a lot of work, and, if you do it right, you go home sore, mentally exhausted, and without a voice. But, every handshake, every interview, every person you meet is an opportunity, an opportunity you will never get sequestered up waiting for someone to trip over your manuscript, no matter how good it is.

 

T. Allen Diaz is the author of speculative fiction, including the dark space epic series the Proceena Trilogy and his gritty, moon-based noir, Lunatic City. He lives in the Tampa Bay area with his wife and three kids where he has lived for his entire lifeFollow him on Twitter as @Proceenawriter and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/T.AllenDiaz where you can stay up-to-date on all of his latest news and events. 

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To Agent or Not to Agent

Guest post by by Robin Reed

Hmmm. My writing career, if I can use that term, seems to happen in fits and starts. I sell a story and I’m sure I am on my way, but then the next three stories are rejected and lie unloved on my hard drive. I do keep a certain amount of actual writing production going, I pour words into my computer and announce the number on Facebook so people can digitally applaud me. There have been an awful lot of skipped days, days when writing is about as appealing as washing the dishes. Despite all that, I do have more words stockpiled at the end of each week than I did at the beginning.

When it comes to building and keeping momentum in the getting published department, I am doing less well. This despite, or perhaps because of, gaining that highly sought, holy of writing holies, an agent. After attending a billion and a half “How to Get an Agent” panels at cons, I finally did it last year, and none of the ways that anyone ever mentioned on those panels.

I did it by personally meeting the agent, and paying $100 at a local conference so he would read my first ten pages. I will lay one secret of writing success (or not really success but closer than before) on you, and you may not like it. A few years ago I found myself with the means to go to writing events, and meet agents and editors in person. It was only then that I started to get somewhere in this business. A writing cruise to the Bahamas led to my first pro science fiction sale. Paying for the agent to read my first ten pages led to him asking for the whole book. A year later, after I had given up on ever hearing from him again, he signed me.

So then my writing sails were set and it was publication ahoy, right? Well, the agent sent out one round of queries late last year. They were all rejected. I assume he plans to send out more. Someday. Waiting for him has stranded me in the doldrums this year. I have all sheets to the wind, and there is no wind. So while I write, it is often without much enthusiasm. I know, my life’s passion is merely grist for the mill that is publishing. They want product, not my heart and soul. If my writing isn’t exactly what they think will sell (and they never know, do they? The Harry Potters and Hunger Games’ are always a surprise because they have no forecasting power, no matter how much they think they do) they will not take it on.

As of this writing, I don’t know if having an agent will produce any career momentum, or if I will be sent back to the minor leagues of self publishing. If the latter is the case, I will still keep what little momentum I have going, I will sell at book fairs and cons and online. I can’t stop, it’s a disease, an obsession.

So, as for building and keeping momentum, my only advice is to keep writing. You knew that before you started reading this, though. The momentum that may come when people read your work and recommend it to others and you appear on bestseller lists isn’t really up to you, except for the “writing a good book” part.

I won’t give any advice because I am still struggling with the earliest parts of writing success and no certainty it will go any further. I do suggest you meet people in the publishing industry if you can. Others have suggested to me that I should buy them drinks, which I’ve never done because I don’t drink alcohol and don’t enjoy bars, but if you do that sounds like a good place to become a face they remember. Or go to conferences.

Countdown. Liftoff. Set sail. Grease the wheels. Fill the tank. Pick your metaphor, write, keep writing, and never stop.

Robin Reed lurks on the outskirts of Los Angeles, accompanied by two cats. She has been published in a number of anthologies and magazines. Her self-published horror novel “Mama” sold pretty well for a while there.
She writes science fiction and humor under her real name and horror as Robin Morris. She is an entry-level member of the Horror Writers Association and the Science Fiction Writers of America.

 

Momentum Because Pixar

Guest Post by Aubrie L. Nixon

prompts. Those clever little devils can really get the creative juices flowing, ya know? When I’m having a rough time creating, I hit up my dear friend Google, and I get myself some clever, witty dialogue prompts. From there, it just comes naturally. When I hit my groove, and I mean really hit my groove, I am able to write for hours. I ride that river of creative momentum and I don’t stop until my fingers bleed. Well, not literally bleed, but you see my meaning.

Finding what brings out your creative flow is VERY important in building up that momentum. Without momentum you are literally stuck, unmoving, not writing! And for us authors that is incredibly bad place to be. Writers Block……a few heathens say it doesn’t exist. That you can just pick right up where you left off….Well to those nay sayers, I say booo!!!! If you are experiencing lack of momentum—writers block, you are among friends here at The Fictorians. We have all experienced writers block at one time or another. Well, thats great Aubrie, but how to I get my momentum back? Well listen up my friend, for I am about to reveal to you a secret that all authors wish they knew….

I have absolutely no idea.

However, I do know that if you don’t at least try to get your mojo back, its gone for good. As I said before, dialogue prompts are very helpful to me. I don’t even always use them for my current WIP (Work in Progress). Sometimes its a completely new story that I spout off with. It really doesn’t matter, as long as I am writing. Another tool I have found helpful is the 22 rules of story writing from Pixar. One of my favorite things from their advice is this:

Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

It literally helps me create new characters and story ideas all the time! You can find the rest of the rules here:

http://nofilmschool.com/2012/06/22-rules-storytelling-pixar

If you remember anything from this post, remember this— Never, Never, Never Give Up. -Sir Winston Churchill

You’ve got this. I promise. It may seem impossible at times, tedious, and trying. But you can do it. All you have to do it keep going. Keep up that momentum and don’t stop.

Pre -Order my debut novel Secret of Souls here:
Amazon- https://goo.gl/BkXssp
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BAM- https://goo.gl/zpy1VH

If you preorder from my favorite Indie bookstore you’ll receive a SIGNED copy! Get that here:
One More Page Books and More- https://goo.gl/cQm5qe

I am running a special preorder incentive where you send e your proof of purchase and your address and I’ll send you an awesome SWAG pack! You’ll also be entered to win 1/5 Grand Prizes! Send your stuff here: aubrienixon@gmail.com

Follow me on my website or social media at:
aubriewrites.com
@aubriewrites

-Aubrie

aubreyAubrie is 24 years young. She plays mom to a cutest demon topside, and is married to the hottest man in the Air Force. When she isn’t writing she is daydreaming about hot brooding anti-heroes and sassy heroines. She loves Dragon Age, rewatching Game of Thrones and reading all things fantasy. She runs a local YA/NA bookclub with 3 chapters, and over 200 members. Her favorite thing to do is eat, and her thighs thank her graciously for it. If she could have dinner with anyone living or dead it would be Alan Rickman because his voice is the sexiest sound on earth. He could read the dictionary and she would be enthralled. Her current mission in life is to collect creepy taxidermy animals because she finds them cute and hilarious. She resides just outside of Washington DC.

Some Thoughts on Writing and Art

Guest post by by Brent Nichols

I’ve been writing for a long time, and I’ve got the knack of it now. I can get word onto the page, and they tend to be reasonably good words, too. Writing isn’t a problem for me these days.

No, the problem isn’t the writing. It’s the NOT writing. The problem is all those zero-word days when all that lovely momentum I’ve built up just disappears, and the reproachful pale rectangle of a blank page stares at me from my computer screen until I can’t face it anymore and I go and do something else.

And when it happens, I never seem to know what to do about it. How to push through. How to reclaim my momentum.

Recently, though, I found some new insight, and it didn’t come to me through writing. I’ve been dabbling in art. I’ve been drawing and painting, and almost every sketch and doodle has me thinking, not about art, but about writing.

I’ve played around with art before, over the years. I’ve bought sketchbooks, made half-hearted attempts to draw, grown discouraged, and moved on. Then, last December, I decided to give art another shot. I promised myself I’d do a sketch a day through 2017. To my surprise I’ve actually made the promise stick. It’s well into July as I write this, and I’m going strong.

Some of my sketches make me cringe, but that’s okay. If there’s one thing writing has taught me it’s that the only way to make good art is to make bad art, over and over, as you learn.

A couple of weeks ago I came across a couple of giant sketchbooks in my garage. They were nestled in the bottom of a box I hadn’t opened since I got married. I don’t know how long it’s been since I bought them, but it’s been more than ten years. And in all those years, I have not made a single mark in either sketchbook.

Not one line.

Today I decided to change that. There’s something intimidating about the sheer size of those enormous pages. It was a chance to make bad art on a dreadful scale. I know my skill as an artist, and while I’m a bit better than I was six months ago, I’m only too aware of my limitations. I knew how this picture would turn out.

But I kept thinking about the useless blankness of all those pages. The blankness had to go. I wouldn’t have a masterpiece when I was done. But it would be … not nothing.

I did a preliminary sketch, and then I set to work with ink and brush. And I made a mess. Parts of the picture worked, but overall it was blotchy and sloppy and deeply unimpressive.

No, I won’t be posting it here.

When it was done, I knew a bit more about how to use ink and brush. In fact, considering how little experience I have with the medium, I actually learned quite a lot. And my giant sketchbook, hoarded for so many years, finally contains a picture.

Not a great picture. Not even a good picture. But not nothing.

That’s how you write a brilliant story, one that will touch people, one they’ll talk about years after they read it. You write a page. If you can’t write a brilliant page, write a terrible one. And then another, and then another. Page after page, until one day you realize you’re writing something that’s actually pretty good. You face the blank page every day, and you refuse to settle for nothing.

And that’s how you get your momentum back. By refusing to settle for nothing.

Your challenges will evolve, but they certainly won’t go away. Today, for instance, I’m avoiding the next scene in my novel. I don’t know how to get it right, so I’m painting pictures in old sketchbooks and writing blog posts for the Fictorians.

My writing, unlike my art, is deeply important to me. I can’t just shrug and tell myself that whatever I put on the page is fine because I’m learning. This is my profession now, and it’s the only thing I really care about. I really don’t want to screw up this next page. I don’t want to learn that I can’t get it right.

But right now that page is blank. It has no value, and it hasn’t taught me a thing.

It’s nothing. And I’m going to change that.

Brent Nichols is the author of the Aurora-nominated novel STARS LIKE COLD FIRE and the sequel, LIGHT OF A DISTANT SUN. He self-publishes tales of science fiction adventure under the pen name Jake Elwood. He’s also a cover designer, making book covers from stock art. Eventually he’s going to do his own painted covers, but he’s not there yet. You can find his books on Amazon, and you can view his cover designs at CoolSeriesCovers.com.